It’s undeniable that while interest in remote working has been growing over the years, COVID-19 has forced businesses to embrace it much quicker than they otherwise would have. In this article, Benenden Health explores three ways businesses can support remote workers, both now and in the future.
1. Carry out a policy review
As the Benenden Health workforce began working from home, we immediately assessed our existing health and wellbeing plan to establish what was of value. It was clear from conversations with employees that health anxiety was an increasing concern and we adapted our strategy to consider the impact on working relationships and physical health.
This allowed us to identify new areas of concern for our employees and introduce resources to help. Some of the practical resources we introduced included: new principles of remote working, sleep guides, home working advice, home-schooling tips, desk exercises and virtual bootcamps.
It’s important to continually review your strategy to make sure the help and information you’re offering is relevant as your employees get used to this new way of working and uncover new challenges.
2. Refine your internal comms
Your business may decide to embrace remote working on a more permanent basis. This would be an employee’s preferred approach as well – according to one survey, millions of UK workers want more permanent flexible working.
In the future, this might involve a blended approach rather than all or nothing. For example, one employee could work one week in the office, one week from home. Another might choose to work half the week in the office and half from home.
With employees working much more flexible hours, and from multiple locations, it’s important to refine your internal communications to make sure home workers and office workers are given the same information. Some ways you can do this are: making sure all business briefings are carried out over a digital platform such as Microsoft Teams, training managers on how to look after remote teams and introducing better collaboration tools to make it easier for remote workers to feel like part of the team.
3. Make sure their health is a priority
It can be more difficult to assess the physical and mental health of your team members if they’re working remotely. Some of the signs employers can look out for to identify increased anxieties in their teams are: people taking more sickness or personal days than usual, an unexpected decrease in performance and indicators from personal conversations. Managers might also find that employees who were previously comfortable having their camera switched on for video conversations have suddenly started turning them off. To protect the health of your remote workers, consider introducing a mental health advice line or providing access to telephone GP advice.
Benenden Health has produced a coronavirus hub, with more tips and information about how to stay healthy as a business and individuals during the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit the COVID-19 hub for more information.